Home News Lolo Jones' Latest H...

Lolo Jones' Latest Hurdle: "Dancing With The Stars"

By Brandon Penny | Sept. 15, 2014, 3:31 p.m. (ET)

Hurdler/bobsledder Lolo Jones and professional dance partner Keo Motsepe will make their "Dancing with the Stars" debut on Sept. 15, 2014.

What’s left to do after competing at the highest level in both a summer and winter sport in one year? Dance — if you’re Lolo Jones. The three-time Olympian has joined the cast on Season 19 of reality television show “Dancing with the Stars,” and will debut her dance moves when the show premieres Monday (Sept. 15) at 8 p.m. ET. Jones stamped her place in the history books earlier this year, joining Lauryn Williams as the ninth and 10th U.S. athletes to compete at both the summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games when they competed as bobsled brakemen at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Already a successful hurdler, with two indoor world titles and a fourth-place finish at the London Games in 2012, Jones returned to the track immediately after the bobsled season and earned three medals (one silver, two bronzes) at IAAF Diamond League meets, as well as bronze at the national championships. After taking her first break from training for any sport in several years, Jones, 32, quickly found her next project and jumped right into dancing.

Jones and professional dancer Keo Motsepe (who dubbed themselves Team LoKeMotion) will compete against 12 other celebrities including comedian Tommy Chong, fashion designer Betsey Johnson and actress Lea Thompson. As she prepares to trade in her sneakers for high heels, Jones spoke to TeamUSA.org about her last slow dance (high school prom), the similarities between bobsled and dancing, and learning to let her guard down.

Fans can vote for Jones online or by calling 800-868-3408.

Lolo Jones and professional dance partner Keo Motsepe rehearse prior to the Season 19 premiere of "Dancing with the Stars" in Los Angeles, California.

Why did you want to compete on “Dancing with the Stars”?

First off, I really don’t have any dance experience. The only experience I have is high school prom and I guess I was such a bad dancer that my date stopped dancing with me after like 30 seconds, and I haven’t slow danced with a man since then. Track is a summer sport so I don’t really get invited to a lot of weddings and I’ve just never had a chance to make up for that unpleasant experience, so this will be my chance to make up for that in front of a ton of people. I just really wanted to have that. I didn’t want my wedding to be the first time I slow danced with somebody.

You announced in mid-August that you would be ending your track season early and missing the last three races. Was that because you committed to the show?

It’s a little bit of both. Obviously I had a really long year with the winter Olympics and then I went straight from the winter Olympics to track and field to compete at USA championships, and there was moments where I couldn’t believe I’m still running — I was tired. Then we had a break because of the Commonwealth Games, and I thought, ‘This is good, I’ll be able to rest and recover for the rest of the races and attack that really hard.’ Then I found out about the show and my coach and I went back and forth forever; it was a really tough decision. On one hand, I wanted to be able to finally finish a track season because with bobsled I had to cut my season short two years in a row. My coach was like, ‘No, you’re in great shape, let’s keep doing this. You’re getting third pretty much in every race and I feel like you’re about to have a good time.’ When the show came along it was like I would have went straight from the winter Olympics to track to “Dancing with the Stars” and I just thought that was a lot on my plate.

It was really hard, but we decided to take a break and I’m so glad I cut out the last three races. The show is a lot of hard work and it’s long days, so the two weeks I had off were amazing. It was the first time I had two weeks off in years so I was able to go into this new project refreshed and now I’m ready to attack.

It’s impressive how much you’ve been able to fit into one year.

I know! I think about it and I’m like, ‘Man I keep going from one project to the next, it’s insane.’ But I love challenges and I get a big kick out of working hard.

How has training for track and bobsled helped you prepare for dancing?

Track has probably helped me more with dancing, where bobsled has helped me is with the long days. With track and field it’s a lot of hard work and the workouts are usually more intense, but bobsled is incredibly long days. You have to prepare the bobsled, you have to get the bobsled to the track, you have to unload it and prepare afterwards, and take care of the runners. Bobsled was my first time as an athlete where I had up to 12-hour days. Now that I’m on the show, sure, my routine is only a minute long but you’re dealing with camera crews, production, hair and makeup, all the interviews, so my day can be just as long as bobsled days. It’s given me the ability to handle a longer day.

What has been the most challenging part of dancing so far?

The hardest thing is letting my guard down and being soft and flirty because I’m a strong, independent athlete. When I compete I have to put on my strong, fierce face. I never have to worry about being flirty or cheeky. The cha-cha requires you to be cheeky. It’s requiring me to use different facial features I’ve never used before. We’re practicing and I’m being told to smile more. I was doing my routine and I smiled and lost every step. I was telling Keo he has to understand I would never smile and run so it’s almost as if you’re putting a bomb in my brain because the option of ‘Am I competing or am I smiling?’ is quite difficult.

Lolo Jones and professional dance partner Keo Motsepe rehearse prior to the Season 19 premiere of "Dancing with the Stars" in Los Angeles, California.

Your partner, Keo, is new to the show. What can fans expect from him?

He brings a ton of energy. He is so excited to be on the show. He said he wants to do something different and to leave his mark on the show. He wants to make history. So he’s very passionate about bringing some new element to the show and it’s really cool to see.

You’ve noted on social media that he is the first black professional dancer on the show. What does that mean to you?

I think it’s great — partially because I’m half black, so those things are obviously important to me. It didn’t register until we flew back from New York, from announcing the cast on “Good Morning America,” and a few people came up to us and said, ‘It’s about time. There’s so many talented, amazing black dancers and I can’t believe that it took this long.’ There’s also this joke element to it. It comes up in interviews and I’ll say, ‘Hey Keo, you know what happens to all the black people in horror movies — they’re always the ones killed off first,’ so we joke about it too.

What are your thoughts on the other celebrities competing this season?

I think they’re great. I think each of them brings something different to the show. Some that might not be good dancers have really fun and spunky personalities that will keep them on the show, so everyone brings this unique talent. I can’t wait for it all to start.

Any idea who your biggest competition might be?

No, because you have those who are amazing dancers and those that aren’t could have an amazing social media following. The show isn’t solely based on dancing skill. Sometimes people go home because others have a bigger social media following, so it’s going to be hard to say who my biggest threat is. The runner in me wants to see how everybody performs, and then I would be like, ‘This is the 1-2-3,’ and go the athlete route.

What do you ultimately hope to get out of being on the show?

I think everyone hopes to win, and for me I hope it breaks down barriers that I have. I’ve always been so independent and always trying to do things on my own, so that can make me a guarded person at times, so I hope the dancing will soften me and make me more feminine, nice and approachable. I’m learning how to work with somebody else so I hope that will help me let my hair down, have fun and not always be in serious athlete mode.

Related Athletes

head shot

Lolo Jones